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Les Parva naturalia d’Aristote

 | 
Pierre-Marie Morel
, 
Christophe Grellard

Aristotle’s De memoria and Plotinus on memory

Richard A.H. King

Texte intégral

My thanks to Pierre-Marie Morel for organising the symposium on the reception of the Parva naturalia; and also to the audience for stimulating remarks. My paper presents some of the results of a study comparing the theories of memory in the two thinkers.

  • 2 É. Bréhier, Plotin. Les Ennéades I-VI. Texte établi et traduit, Paris, Les Belles Lettres, VI vols, (...)

En définitive, ce traité [IV 6] est donc une conférence sur un commentaire d’Aristote.2

  • 3 P. Henry and H.-r.schwyzer, Plotini Opera, Oxford, (Editio minor) III vols, 1964, 1977, 1983 (cf. I (...)
  • 4 The commentary on IV 6 in R. Harder, R. Beutler, W. Theiler, Plotins Schriften. Neubearbeitung mit (...)
  • 5 For the present interpretation of De mem., which is here assumed, rather than argued for, see R.A.H (...)
  • 6 See also H.J. Blumenthal, Plotinus’ Psychology, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff, 1971, p. 81, W.R. Inge (...)

1Thus Emile Bréhier’s conclusion on Plotinus’ treatment of memory in IV 6. If this were true, it would be a resounding testament to the serious use of De memoria in later antiquity. For he thinks that Aristotle’s theory of memory, both in IV 6 and in IV 3 chapters 25 ff, esp. 29-32 was behind much of what Plotinus had to say on the topic, either by being the subject of Plotinus’ criticism, or by being adapted by him to his own theory. Of course, Bréhier’s work has been superseded on many fronts – but the editors of Plotinus, Paul Henry and Hans-Rudolf Schwyzer,3 and his translators4 still persist in the notion that there is a connection between Aristotle’s De memoria5 and Plotinus’ work on memory. Perhaps it is not a communis opinio, but it is certainly a common opinion.6 Bréhier alone of the commentators and translators of Plotinus has taken the trouble to give a detailed account of the way he regards this connection. Henry Blumenthal, writing on “Plotinus’ Adaptation of Aristotle’s psychology” accepts Bréhier’s conclusion:

Basically, in both Plotinus and Aristotle, the faculty [of memory] retains images presented to it either from sensations below or reasonings above. But Plotinus whose discussion in the treatise On Sensation and Memory (IV 6) is clearly based on Aristotle’s account in the de Memoria, as Bréhier showed, does not simply accept it as it stands. He makes several alterations of detail, mainly with a view to removing materialistic or at least apparently materialistic features of Aristotle’s account. (H.J. Blumenthal, “Plotinus’ Adaptation of Aristotle’s Psychology: sensation, imagination and memory”, dans The significance of Neoplatonism, R.B. Harris ed., Albany, 1976, p. 54)

  • 7 Of course, this is not the place to attempt a general assessment of Plotinus’ use of Aristotle, or (...)

2The purpose of the present paper is to examine the evidence. A principle behind my interpretation is that one can only compare such theories when one considers them in some depth. If we restrict ourselves to verbal similarities, the pickings are very meagre; looking at the structure of both theories is both philosophically, and, I think, historically, much more rewarding.7

3When considering his use of De memoria, there is a question of Plotinus’ method: his project is not to say what some previous thinker has said, but in this case to say what the subject of memory is, and it need not surprise us if he runs together different positions. Plotinus is doing philosophy, not history of philosophy. Let us look at the end of IV 6. There, he says the following about his opponents:

For they think about perception and memory as they do about letters written on tablets or pages, and neither do those who assume that the soul is a body see all the impossibilities which their hypothesis involves, nor do those who assume it to be bodiless. IV 6 3 75-79 (trans. Armstrong)

  • 8 Porphyry cites among other Peripatetics Aspasius and Adrastus, along with Alexander of Aphrodisias, (...)

4There are two groups here, both of whom talk about memory being like letters written on writing tablets or pages. They differ on the question whether the soul is bodily or not. They are thus Stoics and Peripatetics. Bréhier nored this, but did not draw the obvious conclusion, that the Stoics are among the opponents Plotinus has in mind. Clearly, Plotinus has a variety of ways of dealing with his opponents. There are texts where he argues closely with one opponent (II 7 against the Stoic notion of mixture), rather than a group of positions (IV 7 against a variety of conceptions of soul), and IV 6 belongs with the latter group. It is directed not merely at Aristotle, but at Peripatetics8 and Stoics alike.

  • 9 On the relation between these two theories of representation, see E. Emilsson, op. cit., p. 109-112 (...)
  • 10 “Representation” and its cognates translate φαντασία and its cognates; this is controversial. For t (...)

5The text just quoted suggests that he has run together the two lines of thought, Peripatetic and Stoic, in his criticism of a wax block model of memory. And one obvious thought is that for the Peripatetic part he is criticising De memoria. But another thought is that Plotinus is clearly arguing against a materialist theory of memory such as one finds in the Stoics; and apparently he finds some of the resources for doing this in a Peripatetic theory. The most important similarity lies in the use of the representative faculty (φαντασία) as the capacity of the soul responsible for memory.9 While this, of course, holds for the Stoics just as much for Peripatetics, one advantage of Aristotle from Plotinus’ point of view is that he uses representations10 and images, but without treating them, or the soul they accrue to, as material. Of course, there are deep differences in the ways in which Plotinus and Aristotle consider the soul to be non-material.

  • 11 De sens. 1 436a7-8.
  • 12 18 15 28, II 9 12 7, II 9 16, 27, III 7 1 23, IV 7 12 9, V 1 1 27, IV 8 4 30, V 5 12 6-15.

6The evidence that Plotinus used De memoria is circumstantial: the verbal echoes are minimal, he does not use the Aristotelian text systematically, he does not work through the work refuting the arguments, he does not quote directly from it, either using Aristotle’s name or not. Nonetheless, there seem to be enough points of contact to justify the cautious judgement that he was indeed using De memoria. We have to ask, I think, just how someone who has such different metaphysical convictions from Aristotle might use the Parva naturalia. Indeed, one could express one distinction between Plotinus’ and Aristotle’s views on the soul by saying that while for the latter, things common to body and soul11 form the bulk, if not the acme, of psychic functions, the end of the soul for Plotinus, as a Platonist, is the separation of the soul from body. He regards this as the soul’s return to its origin. Occasionally, this return is said to be a process of recollection (ἀνάμνησις).12 But of course the conception of memory he works with is based on the way we, body-soul composites, remember. This is the way in which Aristotle approaches memory in De memoria:

  • 13 De. mem., 1, 449b22-25.

For always whenever someone is active with respect to remembering, then he says in this way in the soul that he heard this or perceived it or thought it before. Therefore memory is neither perception nor conception but the possession or modification of one of these, when time has passed.13

  • 14 See e.g. Phaedo 73cl-74a8 where Plato gives five conditions under which cognition (επιστήμη) is rec (...)

7Aristotle draws attention to what someone is doing when we attribute memory to them, and draws as a conclusion a preliminary definition. Even to a Platonist, an analysis of the way in which we speak of memory, as it were the natural context of memory, is the necessary starting point for further reflections on memory in the peregrinations of the soul on leaving the body.14 From a more systematic point of view the interest in such a comparison lies in what can be gleaned about the concept of memory; aspects which appear in such widely diverging theories have a chance of being central to the concept.

  • 15 “Il n'est pas moins vrai que les trois chapitres qui suivent (IV 3 29-32) présentent le caractère d (...)
  • 16 P. Henry and H.-R.Schwyzer, op. cit., vol. II, 1977 ad loc.·, R. Harder, R. Beutler, W. Theiler, op (...)

8It is not easy to decide whether Plotinus read De memoria, let alone if he probably had the work “sous les yeux” when writing on the subject, as Bréhier puts it at one point, when talking about IV 3 29-32.15 But in IV 3 25 ff. the reason for thinking that Aristotle is in the background is plausible, and of the utmost significance for a concept of memory: Plotinus is arguing that memory cannot be common to body and soul, in contrast to perception. Instead, he thinks that memory belongs to the soul itself, once it has received the perception (chapter 26), that is, the thing to be remembered. One reason for thinking that he is arguing against Aristotle at this point is that he gives weaving and boring as examples for the way a craftsman uses his tools, like the soul using the body in perception. And, as the commentators note,16 at least the example of weaving is used by Aristotle in De anima, I, 4, 408b 13: “saying the soul is angry is like saying it builds or weaves”. Even if the reference is not to De memoria, Plotinus’ argument can be seen as an attack on the Aristotelian idea that memory is common to body and soul, and so a topic for the Parva naturalia. To sum up, the point at issue is: what is it that remembers, what is the subject of memory, the soul or body soul composite? A general assumption is at work here. Whether the answer given is the soul or the body and the soul, there is a conviction common to both authors at work here, namely that there must be a subject of memory.

9My procedure is as follows. Before discussing Bréhier’s arguments for thinking that Plotinus is using Aristotle’s theory, I wish to consider one piece of external evidence that has as yet played no part in the literature on this topic. I will then proceed to some points of contact with Aristotle which Bréhier’s interpretation of Plotinus covers up. Finally, I will make some more general points about the differences between the two theories.

10Now for the external evidence. It suggests very strongly that a member of Plotinus’ immediate circle had De memoria at his disposal. In a quotation given by Stobaeus from Porphyry’s On the powers of the soul we find a more or less exact quotation of Aristotle’s final definition of memory in De memoria, embedded in a fairly elaborate account of the process of perceptual memory. I translate:

  • 17 A. Smith, Porphyrins. Fragmenta. Stuttgart, 1993, Fr. 255F, from Stobaeus (III 25, 1):’Eκ τοῦ Πορϕυ (...)

Just as we grasp the other [capacities] of the soul from their activities so, if we look carefully also at memory of things grasped both by perception and by reason, when it occurs in virtue of a effective relation (συναναϕορά) we posit this capacity of the soul which is called memory though the effective relation (συναναϕορά), which [i.e. memory] Aristotle defines as the retention of a representation as an image of that of which the representation is an image (κατοχὴν ϕαντάσματος, ὡς εἰκόνος, οὗ ϕάντασμα εἰκών), such as is passed to the representative apparatus when the perception occurs. The affection which occurs in the representative faculty, whatever [this affection] may actually be, is called a representation; therefore when the perceptive faculty has been made to match by perception, [a process] which occurs in the image (εἰκών) of the object of perception, from which [object] the representation came about, the representation possesses the relation of an image (εἰκών) to the object represented. For something like an image (οἶον εἰκών) of the thing comes about in the representative faculty, namely of the thing occurring to perception. Therefore when retention of the representation takes place round about the representative faculty, this is called memory. This is common, arising also in irrational animals. Articulate [memory], in virtue of which we recollect, occurs in rational animals alone. For articulateness is a property of reasoning. Hence the followers of Aristotle say that irrational animals remember, but that they do not recollect, only humans both remember and recollect.17

  • 18 449b6-8; 453a4-l4.
  • 19 See IV 3 30, a comparison suggested to me by Andrew Smith; and cf. IV 3 25 27-30.

11Taken in its entirety, this is a fascinating interpretation of parts of De memoria. First a few remarks about the end of the fragment, which are relatively pellucid. With good reason the editor of Porphyry’s fragments, Andrew Smith, refers to the texts in De memoria where recollection is said to belong only to humans.18 But note that Porphyry talks here about the followers of Aristotle; this weakens the link to De memoria although what is said here is quite consistent with Aristotle’s own views. Furthermore, it would appear that Porphyry allows memory, strictly speaking, of ideas, also an un-Aristotelian notion; here, he may also be following Plotinus;19 and in thinking that recollection is rational may be connected to a Platonic view of the recollection of ideas. But in our fragment he concentrates on the workings of memory of perceptual experience.

12Now let us turn to this tricky account of memory itself. As noted by Smith, in this fragment there is a reference to the final definition of memory from De memoria 1. There we read:

τί μὲν οὖν ἐστι μνήμη καὶ τò μνημονεύειν, εἲρηται, ὄτι ϕαντάσματος, ὡς εἰκóνος οὗ ϕάντασμα, ἔξις

What memory is and remembering is has been said, namely the possession of a representation as an image of that of which it is the representation (451a1 5-16).

13Now there are interesting divergences from Aristotle in Porphyry’s use of the definition, to which we shall return, but the quotation is close enough for at least the availability of the definition to Porphyry to be certain. Of course, this need not mean that he had De memoria itself at hand. One might speculate that this had found its way into a handbook of definitions: definitions are useful and some readers, for example teachers, may think they can be profitably divorced from the enquiry establishing them.

  • 20 Stobaeus in III 25 3 also cites De mem. with the definition of memory in a very reduced form: Τὴν δ (...)

14Apart from the minor matter of substituting retention (κατοχή)20 for possession (ἔξις), Porphyry is being remarkably faithful to Aristotle, in retaining the definition. Furthermore, he offers a description of the process of memory which is in effect an interpretation of the passage (450a27-32, 450b1 1-451 a2) in which Aristotle gives his solution of the present-past problem, as we may call it. This is the aporia of De memoria, 1, 450a25:

One may well ask why one remembers the thing that is no longer there, when the affection (πάθος) is there, but the thing is not.

15Let us call this the present-past problem: the puzzle is how something past can be present, namely in memory. Briefly, Aristotle’s solution is to attend to the difference between a representation and using a representation as an image. Only the latter case counts as active memory.

16It is worth pausing for a moment with Porphyry to see what gets changed, if not lost, in the process of interpretation. We will find that Porphyry is actually not being as faithful to Aristotle as the use of the final definition of memory from De memoria would suggest. The most important deviation from Aristotle concerns the way in which the memory relates to its object. For Porphyry does not think that the representation has to be taken as an image; rather some representations have the quality of an image in themselves. Memory is present only insofar as a representation which in fact is an image is retained.

17How does Porphyry think perceptual memory works? As one would expect in a theory of perceptual memory based on Aristotle’s account, the representation arises from the perception. Only when perception has been properly matched to, i.e. affected by, its object, does an image occur. Thus images are a subclass of representations. They are distinguished from other representations by their standing in an imaging relation to the object of perception. When this representation, in the narrow sense of an image, is retained, then there is memory. That is the capacity of memory, my capacity to remember the perception, consists in the retention of this image.

  • 21 This is emphasised by P.-M. Morel, “Mémoire et Caractère. Aristote et l’histoire personnelle” in(...)

18So what has Porphyry done with Aristotle? Well, he has decreased the importance of what we do when we actually remember, to favour the moment when we have the experience, and the resulting representation. Partly, this is because he is talking about the capacities of the soul. The important thing is the relation of the representation to the object of perception. For Aristotle’s solution of the present-past problem hinges not on the resemblance of the representation to the thing perceived, but on the way in which we take a mental content. Either we can take it as a representation of the experience, or else we let it float through our minds, for example, without relating it to an experience.21 Only when we relate it to an experience, naturally to a past experience, do we have memory. Representations that simply remain, even very life-like ones, do not constitute memory; representations remain which may occur in other contexts such as in dreams, as is made abundantly clear in De Insomniis. In memory itself, the question is whether we are capable of relating the representation to an experience.

  • 22 See above fn. 7 for references to some work on the topic.

19So much for Porphyry; what about Plotinus himself? I know of no reason which would make more texts available to Porphyry than to Plotinus. So here too we can draw the cautious conclusion that De memoria was at least available to Plotinus. Even if it may be impossible to prove that Plotinus read De memoria, given his interest in the topic (IV 3 25-IV 4 16 take up twenty five pages in Henry and Schwyzer’s Oxford Classical Text, and IV 6 another five pages) it would be surprising had he not done so. After all, he is very interested in Aristotle’s psychology.22 His interest in memory is, furthermore rather different from Porphyry’s in this fragment, and I think that he picks up on things that Aristotle had noticed. So in their reading of De memoria Porphyry and Plotinus are relatively independent of one another, as far as the evidence goes.

  • 23 IV 169-170.
  • 24 As seen by H.J. Blumenthal, “Plotinus’ Adaptation of Aristotle’s Psychology: sensation, imagination (...)

20Let us turn to Bréhier. To begin with, he thinks that it is not doctrine but an aporia about memory which Plotinus has picked up from Aristotle.23 Plotinus wishes to solve it without using impressions at least of a material kind.24 For he thinks that memory belongs to the soul alone, as a capacity (δύναμις) to do something. Thus he is opposed to a tenet fundamental to Aristotle’s view of memory, namely that, as we have already seen, it is common to body and soul.

  • 25 E. Bréhier, op. cit., IV, p. 170-171: “Le reste du chapitre est destiné a montrer que les faits ind (...)

21The structure of Plotinus’ argument in IV 6 3 is as follows. Having said what he thinks memory is, he then uses this account to explain various phenomena. We will return to this account later; the arguments at this point can be understood if we just bear in mind that memory is an active capacity, that is, one to do things, not to undergo them. Bréhier considers this procedure as a way of refuting Aristotle. Of the eight arguments which Bréhier distinguishes in this passage of VI 6 3, he thinks that five refer to Aristotle’s text. Plotinus wants to show that his explanation of these phenomena works, whereas Aristotle’s does not.25 Examination of these five arguments will show partly more agreement between Aristotle and Plotinus than Bréhier allows, and partly more radical criticism.

22The five arguments in Plotinus which Bréhier refers to Aristotle are the following:

    • 26 See also 449b22-23.

    Plotinus (11.29-40) argues that because exercise improves memory, memory must be a capacity. Aristotle remarks that repeated acts of memory improve memory (De memoria 1 451a12-14) by regarding the representation as an image. While Bréhier merely remarks on the analogous possibility of improving memory in both thinkers, I think that the analogy indicates that Plotinus cannot have thought that Aristotle thinks that memory can be explained merely by the preservation of representations. He must have understood that for Aristotle memory is something active and not merely passive, not merely the possession of an impression. For the person remembering has to regard the representation as an image of the experience, as is clear from Aristotle’s final definition (quoted above), which encapsulates his solution to the present-past problem.26 So what can we conclude? If Plotinus read Aristotle, and understood that Aristotle thought memory can be improved by training, then he cannot have thought Aristotle to have considered memory to be simply the remaining of impressions. The person remembering has to do something with the representation, when actively remembering. As we will see, Plotinus too thinks remembering is doing something.

    • 27 See also IV 3 26 7; τύπωσις is of course a Stoic term, used to define ϕαντασία (e.g. SVF II 53, 56, (...)

    Aristotle uses the wax block model both for memory (450a32) and for perception (De anima II 12). Plotinus says that since perception is not an imprinting (τύπωσις),27 memory cannot be the retention (κατοχή) of impressions (IV 6 3 55-57). On the face of it this is a repetition of his main line of argument in IV 6 as a whole, as announced at the start of the first chapter. So why does Bréhier think that this is an ad hominem argument against Aristotle, revealing a contradiction between his theory of memory and his theory of perception? Presumably, the point is that once Plotinus has (to his mind) refuted the impression theory of perception, he has also refuted the impression theory of memory. Plotinus does not agree that perception is comparable with imprinting a wax block (IV 6 3 55). Partly this is because he reads the model in such a way that it is incompatible with the presence of an active capacity in the subject of memory: imprinting requires that the soul is passive, whereas Plotinus thinks that the soul only has active capacities. So I think that we have here part of a radical criticism of Aristotelian psychology by Plotinus.

  1. Both Aristotle (449b 18-30) and Plotinus (IV 6 3 59) place great emphasis on the interval of time between the original perception and memory. Bréhier remarks that Aristotle mentions this (451a29-31), and that Plotinus takes it to be an argument for memory being a particular kind of active power, namely one that needs time to be established. Bréhier does not explicitly draw the conclusion that here again the two thinkers are thinking alike, even if the reasons they give for their views, and the conclusions they draw from them, differ fundamentally. For example, the connection with time is one reason Aristotle has for attributing memory to the perceptive faculty.

  2. They also agree that intelligence and memory often do not coincide (451a29-31, IV 6 3 63-67. (Henry and Schwyzer refer to De memoria, 1, 449b7-8), a point of agreement which Bréhier overlooks. But he is quite right that the conclusions they draw from this phenomenon are different. Plotinus sees here an argument for memory as an active capacity, Aristotle a reason for distinguishing memory and recollection.

    • 28 É. Bréhier finds the lines 67-70 only comprehensible by reference to Aristotle’s theory that those (...)

    The final reference to Aristotle that Bréhier sees is simply a mistake, so I pass over it with a footnote.28

  • 29 E.g. Timaeus 35a in IV 1.

23One reason that these references cannot be taken as established beyond all doubt is that none of the verbal similarities is such as to be unmistakeable. Plotinus has ways of referring to well known texts by using catch words from them,29 and he does not use them here. Obviously, De memoria does not have the status of one of the major texts for Plotinus. Even attending to the kind of theory in Aristotle and Plotinus will not be indubitable proof. We also have to bear in mind that other theorists had impression theories of memory, notably the Stoics. This applies even to the aporia which Bréhier uses as his star witness for the Aristotelian background, as we have already seen. In one important fragment about Stoic theories of learning, we find the present-past problem:

αἰσθόμενοι γάρ τινος οἶον λευκοῦ ἀπελθόντος αὐτοῦ μνήμην ἒχουσιν.
by perceiving something e.g. white, they have a memory of it when it has departed. Aetius IV 11.1 (part of
SVFII 83, cf. also II 55)

24The point may be of course that any theory of memory will have to cope with this problem. Here is the Plotinian version:

  • 30 Νῦν δὲ τούτων εἰρημένων περὶ μνήμης ἐϕεξῆς λεκτέον εἰποῦσι πρóτερον, ὡς οὐ θαυμαστóν, μᾶλλον δὲ θαυ (...)

But now that we have said this [about sense perception] we must next speak about memory; first we must say that it is not astonishing, or rather it is astonishing, but we should not disbelieve that the soul has a power of this kind, if it receives nothing itself and contrives an apprehension of what it does not have. For it is the expression (λόγος) of all things, and the nature of soul is the last and lowest expression (λόγος) of the intelligibles and the beings in the intelligible world, but first in the whole world perceived by the senses. Therefore it certainly stands in relation with both. IV 6 3 1-8 (Armstrong trans., emended)30

25Here, Plotinus states the problem: how does the soul contrive apprehension of something it does not have? But he also expresses his resistance to the idea of (material) impressions at one and the same time. The soul takes in nothing of the thing, yet it has a memory of it: I understand this as a denial of impressions, along with the assertion of apprehension i.e. grasp of the thing experienced or thought. It is characteristic of Plotinus to link this capacity to what the soul is. Because the soul is both the expression of the intelligibles and of sensible things, it is able to grasp them even when they are not immediately present. This refers on the one hand to memory of past experiences, but also to the memory of intelligibles, when the soul is in the sensible world, in other words, when fitted with a body and hence able to perceive.

  • 31 É. Bréhier, op. cit., IV, ρ. 32.

26When we compare central aspects of the two theories of memory, it emerges that Plotinus and Aristotle are much closer in their conceptions of memory than Bréhier thinks or one might expect. A very obvious similarity was noted by Bréhier,31 which we have already mentioned several times, namely that Plotinus like Aristotle adopts an explanation of memory using phantasia:

If then the representation of the absent thing is present in this [sc. the representative faculty] it [sc. the representative faculty] already remembers, even if it is only present for a short time. IV 3 29 26-27

  • 32 Previously mentioned IV 3 29 24.
  • 33 Cf. Blumenthal’s one line sketch of the theories of memory in Aristotle and Plotinus, quoted above (...)

27Plotinus seems to be saying here that if the representation is in the representative faculty, then it is a case of memory. So a possible interpretation of ‘memory and retention’,32 would be that remaining is memory. Simply through representations remaining, we have memory. We can call this a naive reading.33 As we shall see, however, further conditions are necessary for memory.

28One further condition is that memory, when actualised, is an activity, and the simple remaining of a representation has no claim to being an activity. He hints at the rest of the explanation, I think, when he gives two conditions for memory taking place, in the text just quoted:

  1. when the representation is present in the faculty of representation,

  2. when the representation is of the “absent thing” i.e. past thing, i.e. the experience of the thing.

29What these additional conditions demand is that the representation is present to the mind, and that it is of the object. That is, two actual relations can be asserted of it – to the subject’s mental activity, and to the object of memory. This could be called “a sophisticated reading” of actively remembering.

30In order to see how the sophisticated reading works, we have to see how memory goes beyond mere retention. We have just seen that the sophisticated reading required that in a memory the representation is present to the subject of the memory and so related to its object. Of course, retention is also required by memory. The weak relations between the object that caused the representation, and between the representation itself and the subject it is in are necessary conditions for memory, but they are not sufficient. They only make up retention. So how does Plotinus conceive of that element in memory which distinguishes it from mere retention? The trouble is he does not say how an act of memory is related to its object. One way that is worthy of consideration is that the soul delivers a judgement using the representation. Take as an example:

31Example (E) Socrates remembers (at t2) that he saw Theaetetus two days ago (at t1).

  • 34 V 3 3 1-9, IV 3 27 11, 14, 21 as well as in IV 4 1 1.
  • 35 Cf. “Memory and Imagination belong... to the Discursive reason” (W.R. Inge, op. cit., p. 226). H.J. (...)

32Socrates can say the sentence, “I remember I saw Theaetetus two days ago”, either aloud or not, without any image occurring. In some cases he may have an image of Theaetetus, but this is not necessary. Nonetheless, he can only do this because of a capacity in part constituted by a representation. Confirmation for this reading of Plotinus comes from his arguments against impression theories of memory: some are based on the idea that an occurrent impression cannot explain many of the things we wish to say about memory. In general terms, mere retention cannot explain the propositional nature of memory. For the theory of memory, it is crucial that the soul says (λέραν) things which are in its memory.34 The characteristic performances of memory are propositional performances.35 Thus the activity of memory is not merely the possession of an immaterial impression.

  • 36 De an., III, 3, 429al-2.

33How can we distinguish the two theories of memory? Whereas phantasm is a change remaining from a perception in Aristotle’s book,36 and so bound to actual perception, Plotinus divorces phantasia from perception: the soul can have phantasia, and hence memory when it does not perceive, that is when it has no body. This is a crucial difference: it enables Plotinus to understand memory as something that belongs to the soul alone, unlike perception. A major interest in IV 3 25-IV 4 5 concerns the question of just what the soul remembers in which stages of its journey. Obviously, the motivation for Plotinus’ use of memory lies in the central importance of the soul rediscovering, recollecting where it comes from.

  • 37 For Aristotle, see R.A.H. King, Aristotle on life and death, Londres, Duckworth, 2001, p. 58-64; S. (...)

34A central feature of Plotinus’ system is the Aristotelian notion that the soul is not subject to change.37 For Plotinus this means that the soul quite simply undergoes no change. Aristotle can allow that the body of the concrete thing is modified (affected) which allows the soul to have a capacity like memory, which depends on the modification of the body. Thus Aristotle’s explanation of memory is grounded on his view of the subject of memory, the concrete living thing. Plotinus’ theory is also grounded on his view of the subject of memory, but the subject itself is quite different. Although Bréhier sees that the subject of memory is crucial to Plotinus’ theory, he does not remark that there is here an important analogy with Aristotle.

  • 38 IV 3 29 23.
  • 39 IV 3 26 25-32. The longest treatment of φαντασία occurs in the texts on memory; there is no separat (...)
  • 40 E. Emilsson, op. cit., p. 110, citing III 6 1 7-11, IV 3 26 and 29; n. 49 p. 167: I 1 7 12-13, IV 4 (...)

35How can Plotinus explain that memory belongs to the soul alone? He requires that the soul, on its own, can remember, by being strengthened by an experience in such a way that the experience or the object of the experience is quasi present to the soul. Plotinus thinks that this requires a purely non-material account of memory, which makes use of φαντάσματα which remain present when the perception is over.38 As to the question of how he conceives of ϕαντάσματα: he does talk about τύποι, while denying the likeness to using a seal to make an impression – rather they are apprehended more like thought.39 Unlike Aristotle, he thinks that φαντασία can be actually used without the body, but like Aristotle he thinks that it in some way derives from active perception. A perceptual judgement leaves a τύπος in the soul, an incorporeal, intelligible representation of what is perceived. These representations are objects of ϕαντασία. Thus representation is perception that has been internalised by the soul.40

36In reading Plotinus’ theory of memory we should not restrict ourselves to simply noticing Aristotelian influence. The question is of course how Plotinus’ theory is to be understood in the first place. I have to restrict myself to a few points here. Plotinus thinks that the solution of the aporia already mentioned, namely of remembering something past in the present, depends on what the soul is, namely the λόγος of everything. This enables Bréhier to view Plotinus’ theory of memory in IV 6 3 (especially lines 5-19) as assimilating perceptions to innate ideas. For if the soul is the λóγος of everything, both intelligibles and sensibles, then both of these can be in the soul in the same way or in an analogous fashion. Tike Teibniz’ complete notions of a monad (to which Bréhier refers), each Plotinian soul (on this reading) contains not merely innate ideas but also all the perceptions that ir ever has. These “innate” perceptions then just need to be made to shine out in order for an act of memory to take place. This misrepresents Plotinus. Bréhier thinks that being the λόγος of sensible things refers to every sensible experience. But there is no need to refer to every actual experience-it is enough if the soul has the capacity for possible sensible experiences. In this way, Plotinus does not exclude the possibility of having new experiences. This is necessary since Plotinus clearly thinks that we can acquire learning or experience.

37Bréhier’s interpretation masks the similarity with Aristotle. Recall our example:

38Example (E) Socrates remembers (at t2) that he saw Theaetetus two days ago (at t1).

  • 41 Above. p. 114.
  • 42 IV 3 25 11. Cf. IV 4 6 3.

39Because Bréhier assimilates perception to thought, there is no prior time tl at which the memory of Theaetetus was laid down, as there is in Aristotle’s theory. We have seen that this is also the case in Plotinus’ theory, in considering the sophisticated reading of active memory.41 This is apparent through his use of the metaphor of a woman in labour (IV 6 3 19): saying that when the soul actually remembers it is like a woman in labour, presupposes impregnation, i.e. acquisition of experience and a period intervening between experience and memory. This is confirmed by Plotinus’ talk of memory of acquired knowledge and experience.42 In other words, a memory at t2 presupposes an experience at t1. Here, in the realm of sensible experience, Aristotle and Plotinus pursue the same line. The point of Aristotle introducing the imprinting through perception is that something has to happen to the living thing, if it is going to have a memory later (450a32, already mentioned above). Plotinus thinks that the soul acquires a capacity through the experience, namely the capacity to remember this experience. This is clear if we consider his fullest account of memory, which I call a quasi definition:

Whenever therefore the soul is strengthened with respect to something that appears to it (πρòς ὁτιοῦν τῶν ϕανέντων), the soul is disposed to it as if to something present (ὤσπερ πρòς παρòν διάκειται); the more the soul is strengthened, the more the appearance is always present to it. IV 6 3 19-21

40The interpretation of this quasi definition is not easy, but it is clear enough that what happens to the soul at t1 is that it is strengthened, namely with regard to the experience, such that it is then able to recall the experience afterwards.

  • 43 É. Bréhier, op. cit., IV, p. 169-170.

41But Aristotle and Plotinus are clearly also in agreement in thinking that at t2 something has to be done. The importance of activity is missed by Bréhier.43 At the start of the treatment of memory in IV 6 3, (quoted above p. 112-113) Plotinus says that we should be prepared to believe in a power of the soul to grasp things which it does not possess. Bréhier thinks that these lines allude directly to Aristotle’s statement of the present-past problem, which I have already mentioned several times: how can one remember something past by perceiving a present affection? And Bréhier sees in Aristotle’s answer only the possession of an impression, and fails entirely to see that memory according to Aristotle is not merely the possession of something, that is, of a representation. The rememberer does something at t2 with the impression in order to remember the past experience, namely he regards the representation as an image of that of which it is a representation. This view is encapsulated in Aristotle’s final definition of memory. Memory is not merely the possession of a phantasma, but of a phantasma taken in a certain way. This is an active achievement, not merely something given. What about the activity at t2 in Plotinus’ theory? There is an analogue in the active presence of a representation, when the capacity of the soul is exercised. The phantasma has to be made to “shine out”. We have seen that this characteristically involves saying something.

42Bréhier thinks Plotinus attributes to Aristotle a passive impression theory of memory, that is to say, memory is the passive possession of an impression. The trouble with his reading is that it supposes that Plotinus simplified Aristotle drastically (supposing he knew De memoria), namely by only noticing the possession of an impression, and not that one does something with the representation, namely to regard it as a copy.

43We have already noticed that Bréhier ignores the activity at t2 in Aristotle’s account; this is tantamount to ignoring the distinction between activity and capacity. But Aristotle not only takes the activity of memory into account, he also takes the capacity to remember into account, namely the presence in the rememberer of a moving cause, a principle of change (452a10). The point about the capacity to remember is that one can remember of one’s own accord.

  • 44 Cf. A. Onsager, Plotinus on selfhood, freedom andpolitics, Aarhus, 2004, p. 24-25, pace W.R. Inge, (...)

44The question of the subject of memory is one that interests Plotinus deeply, taking it to mean, what is it that remembers? Memory is of course not sufficient for the identity of the subject of memory.44 This is the topic he pursues at great length in IV 3 and 4 – there he assumes a definition of memory, instead of looking for it, and asks rather which things are such by nature as to be able to remember. The location and the nature of the definition alluded to is a question I cannot go into here; I think Plotinus himself only gives a quasi-definition, which I have already mentioned. It is tempting to think he is referring to Aristotle’s definition, and I think his account would fit with an interpretation of that definition.

  • 45 449b4-5.
  • 46 Also known as the mereological fallacy; see M.R. Bennett and P.M.S. Hacker, Philosophical Foundatio (...)
  • 47 436bl-7. On this passage, see P.-M. Morel, “Common to Soul and Body in the Parva naturalia” in Comm (...)

45Aristotle also distinguishes the tasks of defining memory and of finding the part of the soul with which we remember.45 For him, there is no doubt that the subject of memory is the concrete individual. This is the message of the famous passage in De anima I, 4, 408b13 already referred to more than once, which is the basis of modern discussions of the homunculus fallacy: it is a mistake to use parts of living things, whether the soul or the brain, as the subjects of predicates which apply only to the whole living thing. The soul does not weave, a human being weaves, the brain does not think, a human being does.46 A different, if closely related question concerns the explanation of memory. In De memoria he does argue that the perceptive faculty is responsible for, explains memory; this is part of what it means to say that memory is common to body and soul, a subject for the Parva naturalia·. for perception is the star case of a faculty common to body and soul.47 Plotinus’ different perspective is due to the fact that he wishes to examine memory in the different phases of the human soul, and allocate different memories to the different parts of the soul; but he also wishes to preclude certain souls, namely those of the world and the heavenly bodies, and indeed God and intellect, from memory in general (IV 3 25 13-24 and IV 4 6-17). Aristotle is more simply concerned to show that memory can also be present in animals other than ourselves.

  • 48 Cf. IV 7 5 22-24. The soul is not in Hux, i.e. not amendable to change. IV 3 26 52-54.
  • 49 See R.A.H. King, Aristotle on life and death, Londres, Duckworth, 2001, p. 49-58.
  • 50 450a32-450bl 1. Blumenthal and Harder-Beutler-Theiler see in this a theory which Plotinus rejects, (...)

46There are, Plotinus thinks, no organs of representation, the soul has this function and nature even when it is not embodied. An important argument for this view concerns the disruptive nature of the body. Since the body is in flux, it causes forgetting, and prevents remembering, rather than being a condition of its existence.48 Here, Aristotle and Plotinus part company most decisively. For Aristotle thinks that the soul can regulate changes in such a way that the living thing is preserved, namely by its vegetative functions.49 And this regularity is the basis of his body based theory of memory. He thus explains the failure of memory in the young and the old by their bodies being too hard or too fluid to take or preserve the affection necessary for memory.50 Aristotle can view memory as being common to body and soul, where Plotinus is quite clear that memories can be had without body. Thus although he too has a lot to say about things common to body and soul (much of it in I 1), systematic reasons prevent him from including memory among them (IV 3 26).

47To conclude, some more general remarks. Aristotle and Plotinus are both advocates of a modest concept of memory, despite the fact that there are divergences in the way they understand the object of memory and hence the nature of memory. For Aristotle memory and recollection are properly speaking applied only to experiences, and not to thoughts, whereas Plotinus also allows recollection as a means of access to thinking forms. But in both cases the modesty of memory consists in being determined on the one hand by a persisting subject of memory, and, on the other hand, by more basic cognitive capacities, such as thought and perception. Neither persisting subject nor the basic cognitive capacities require memory for their existence. Conversely, understanding memory does require us to understand its relation to its subject, the being that remembers. This is true for both Plotinus and Aristotle.

Notes

2 É. Bréhier, Plotin. Les Ennéades I-VI. Texte établi et traduit, Paris, Les Belles Lettres, VI vols, 1924-38, vol. 4, 1927, p. 171.

3 P. Henry and H.-r.schwyzer, Plotini Opera, Oxford, (Editio minor) III vols, 1964, 1977, 1983 (cf. Index Fontium in vol. III, p. 332) refer the following passages to De mem.: 1.) IV 3 30 2-3: representation accompanies all acts of thought De mem. 1 449b30. Despite the closeness of the phrasing in both passages, this is hardly conclusive; see De an., III, 7, 431a14; 8, 432a13-14.2.) IV 6 3 64 to De mem., 1,449b7 (also A.H. Armstrong, Plotinus, in seven volumes, vol. IV, Cambridge (Mass.) – Londres, William Heinemann, 1984, ad loc.): the same people do not generally have good memories and quick minds. See below on Bréhier. 3.) VI 6 3 4-5 to De mem., 1,450a25-7: the problem of the present-past, which I discuss below. 4.) IV 6 1 1 (also A.H. Armstrong, op. cit., ad loc.), where Plotinus denies that perception is an impression, and argues that memory cannot therefore be the remaining of these impressions in the soul, is to be compared with De mem., 1, 450a30-32: the change in perception produces something like an imprint of the percept, like those using seals to make an impression. See below on Bréhier. 5.) The same passage is compared to IV 7 6 39-40.

4 The commentary on IV 6 in R. Harder, R. Beutler, W. Theiler, Plotins Schriften. Neubearbeitung mit griechischem Lesetext und Anmerkungen, Hamburg, IV vols. Text (a), IV vols, Notes (b), 1956-1971, vol. II a, b, 1962: IV b, p. 410) is as follows: “Von Aristoteles ist die Schrift über das Gedächtnis erhalten 449b5f; ihr folgt auch Alexander von Aphrodisias z.B. De an. 68, 4, 69 12, beide beriicksichtigt Plotin” (as to Alexander: see P.J. Van der Eijk in this volume p. 49-51. It is possible he is referring to De mem. at 69.19-20, hut also that he himself wrote a work with this title which we do not have). In IV 3 25-IV 4 5 (R. Harder, R. Beutler, W. Theiler, op. cit., vol. II b p. 500-510) they refer several passages to De mem.: 1.) IV 3 25 42, if the soul remembers, what is the capacity of the soul responsible, to De mem., 1, 449b5, which part of the soul does the affection of memory and recollection occur in? On the explanation of memory using ϕαντασία, see below. 2.) IV 3 26 52, body is an impediment to memory, to De mem., 2, 453b3 dwarf-like people, i.e. those with disproportionately large upper parts, do not keep the motions (i.e. of the original perception), and thus cannot recollect successfully because of the weight bearing down on the central perceptive part (they also compare De an., 408bl8). The conclusions Aristotle and Plotinus draw here diverge widely. See below. 3.) IV 3 29 23, the phantasma can be a percept to the person remembering, thus making the sight present to the representative faculty when the perception has ceased, since representative capacity and perception are distinct, is to be compared with De mem., 1, 450b 13: the present-past problem; see below. The following texts in IV 6 3 are referred to De mem.: 1.) IV 6 3 38: 451 a 12 practice preserves memory by repeatedly reminding one of the thing in question, remembering can happen suddenly on account of hearing something or of practice. So too É. Bréhier, op. cit., p. 171), see below. 2.) IV 6 3 52, the old are similarly weak in perception and memory, to De mem., 1, 450b6, the old are too hard to take on impressions, and so have bad memories (so too H.J. Blumenthal, “Plotinus’ Adaptation of Aristotle’s Psychology: sensation, imagination and memory”, in The significance of Neoplatonism, R.B. Harris ed., Albany, 1976, p. 54). 3.) IV 6 3 l, 74 to 450b 16, 30 for the function of impressions in memory, see below. A.H. Armstrong, op. cit., ad loc., refers the use of ἀνάληψις at IV 6 3 44 (see also line 29), practised messengers are good at performing so-called ἀνάληψις to 451a20: there Aristotle denies that recollection can be an ἀνάληψις of memory. As Plotinus draws the conclusion that memory is a strengthened capacity, and Aristotle that recollection and memory have the same objects, the connection is no more than verbal. P.-M. Morel, in Plotin, Traités38-41, L. Brisson et J.-E Pradeau dir., Paris, Flammarion, 2007, p. 378-380, sees 5 main similarities with Aristotle: memory derives from sensation, it concerns the past as such, thanks to φαντασία, memory is not passive, and finally that memory is distinct from thought and sensation. I agree entirely.

5 For the present interpretation of De mem., which is here assumed, rather than argued for, see R.A.H. King, Aristoteles. Werke in deutscher Übersetzung, Begründet von Ernst Grumach, Herausgegeben von Hellmut Flashar, Band 14 Teil II: de memoria, Berlin, Akademie-Verlag, 2004.

6 See also H.J. Blumenthal, Plotinus’ Psychology, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff, 1971, p. 81, W.R. Inge, The Philosophy of Plotinus, Londres, II vols, 19683, I, p. 226-228; L.P. Gerson, Plotinus, Londres, 1994, p. 180-3 does not refer to De mem. B. Fleet, Plotinus. Ennead III 6. On the Impassivity of the Bodiless (Translation and Commentary), Oxford, 1996, at Ill 6 2 42) refers to De mem., 1,450a25. Armstrong, Plotinus Ennead III, Cambridge, Mass. Harvard Univ. Press, 1967, p. 218, ad loc.) refers to the Stoic controversy whether memory is like an impression-whether it is like a stamp made on wax by a seal, as Cleanthes had thought, or whether this would make memory impossible, as Chrysippus held: later impressions would obliterate earlier ones (STF II 55-56, esp. 56 17-24 (Sextus Empiricus, Adv. math., VII, 372); cf., perhaps, Plotinus, IV 6 3 25-27, IV 7 6 42-46). Instead, he thinks that the ϕαντασία which is involved in memory is an alteration of the soul. Either theory would be repugnant to Plotinus.

7 Of course, this is not the place to attempt a general assessment of Plotinus’ use of Aristotle, or even of his psychology. For the latter, see e.g. P. Henry, “Une comparaison chez Aristote, Alexandre et Plotin” in Les Sources de Plotin. Entretiens sur l'Antiquité Classique Tome V, Fondation Hardt, 1960, p. 429-444.; H.J. Blumenthal, op. cit., p. 12-13; p. 134-140; In., “Plotinus Psychology: Aristotle in the service of Platonism”, International Philosophical Quarterly 12, 1972; ID., “Plotinus’ Adaptation of Aristotle’s Psychology: sensation, imagination and memory”, in The significance of Neoplatonism, R.B. Harris ed., Albany, 1976; K. Corrigan, “The internal Dimensions of the Sensible Object in the Thought of Plotinus and Aristotle”, Dionysius, V, 1981, p. 98-126; E. Emilsson, Plotinus on Sense Perception, Cambridge, 1988, p. 31-5, p. 95-100; A.H. Armstrong, “Aristotle in Plotinus: The continuity and Discontinuity of Psychê and Nous”, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Supplement, 1991, p. 117-127.

8 Porphyry cites among other Peripatetics Aspasius and Adrastus, along with Alexander of Aphrodisias, as having been consulted by Plotinus (Porphyry, Vita Plotini 14.13).

9 On the relation between these two theories of representation, see E. Emilsson, op. cit., p. 109-112. H.J. Blumenthal (“Plotinus’ Adaptation of Aristotle’s Psychology: sensation, imagination and memory”..., p. 54-55) sees a major innovation in Plotinus’s account in the splitting of the imagination (φαντασία), to account for the possibility that shade and soul have different memories; he tries to find Aristotelian antecedents for this split; see E. Emilsson, ibid., p. 167, n. 46, for a convincing critique. The matter of the split between soul and shade requires separate treatment. The eschatological side to Plotinus’ theory of memory in IV 3 25-IV 4 5 is obviously not based on Aristotle (cf. H.J. Blumenthal, ibid., note 32).

10 “Representation” and its cognates translate φαντασία and its cognates; this is controversial. For the question in De mem., see R.A.H. King, p. 30-36.

11 De sens. 1 436a7-8.

12 18 15 28, II 9 12 7, II 9 16, 27, III 7 1 23, IV 7 12 9, V 1 1 27, IV 8 4 30, V 5 12 6-15.

13 De. mem., 1, 449b22-25.

14 See e.g. Phaedo 73cl-74a8 where Plato gives five conditions under which cognition (επιστήμη) is recollection. Plotinus, however, notes at IV 6 3 71-74 how paradoxical his view of memory is to common sense.

15 “Il n'est pas moins vrai que les trois chapitres qui suivent (IV 3 29-32) présentent le caractère d’une recherche scientifique, à la manière du petit traité d’Aristote Sur la mémoire, que Plotin a eu probablement sous les yeux en rédigeant ces chapitres”, É. Bréhier, op. cit., IV, p. 31.

16 P. Henry and H.-R.Schwyzer, op. cit., vol. II, 1977 ad loc.·, R. Harder, R. Beutler, W. Theiler, op. cit., vol. IIb, p. 500 ad IV 3 25 42; A.H. Armstrong, Plotinus, in seven volumes, vol. IV, Cambridge (Mass.)-Londres, William Heinemann, vol. IV, 1984, p. 114 ad IV 3 26 3) notes that Plotinus “characteristically” uses boring holes, instead of Aristotle’s building a house, as an example for the purposes of vividness.

17 A. Smith, Porphyrins. Fragmenta. Stuttgart, 1993, Fr. 255F, from Stobaeus (III 25, 1):’Eκ τοῦ Πορϕυρίου Περὶ τῶν τῆς ψυχῆς δυνάμεων. Ὡσπερ γὰρ ἐκ τῶν ἐνεργειῶν καὶ τὰς ἄλλας κατελαβόμεθα, οὕτως ἀναθεωροῦντες κατὰ συναναϕορὰν γιγνομένην καὶ μνήμην τῶν διαἰσθήσεως καταληϕθέντων διὰ λόγου, ἐθέμεθα καὶ ταύτην ψυχῆς δύναμιν, τῇ (5) συναναϕορᾷ καλεῖται μνήμη, ἣν ἀϕορίζεταιΑριστοτέλης κατοχὴν ϕαντάσματος, ὡς εἰκόνος, οὖ ϕάντασμα εἰκών, οἶον ὃταν γένηται αἲσθησις, ἀνεδόθη ἐπὶ τὴν ϕανταστικὴν κατασκευήν· τò γενόμενον ἐν τῇ ϕανταστικῇ τò πάθος, τι δή ποτε ὄν, ϕάντασμα καλεῖται, ἔτι οὖν καὶ (10) ἀρθέντος τοῦ αἰσθητικοῦ ἐκ τῆς αἰσθήσεως, τò προσπῖπτον ἐν τῇ εἰκόνι τοῦ αἰσθητοῦ, ἀϕ'οὖ συνέστηκε τò ϕάντασμα, εἰκόος λόγον ἒχον πρòς τò ϕανταστόν οἶον γὰρ εἰκών τις ἐγένετο ἐν τῇ ϕανταστικῇ τοῦ ὑποπεσόντος ὑπò τὴν α ἴσθησιν. ὄταν οὖν γένηται κατοχὴ περὶ τὴν (15) ϕανταστικὴν τοῦ ϕαντάσματος, καλεῖται μνήμη. τοῦτο μὲν οὗν κοινòν καὶ ἐν τοῖς ἀλόγοις ζώοις δὲ διηρθρωμένη, καθἣν καὶ ἀναμιμνησκόμεθα, ἐν μόνοις ἐστὶ τοῖς λογικοῖς· ἲδιον γὰρ λογισμοῦ τò διηρθρωμένον. διò καὶ ϕασὶν οἰ περὶ τòν’Aριστοτέλην τὰ ἄλογα ζῷα μεμνῆσθαι (20) μέν, ἀναμιμνήσκεσθαι δὲ μή, μόνον δὲ τòν ἄνθρωπον καὶ μνημονεύειν καὶ ἀναμιμνήσκεσθαι.
My thanks to Andrew Smith and Denis O’Brien for discussion of the problems in the quotation of Aristotle’s definition. One main difficulty lies in the word
συναναϕορά – a rare word which may well bear the sense suggested in the translation, gratefully borrowed by me from Andrew Smith. Understood this way, this concept may indicate interest in the present-past problem; on which, see below in the main text. On Porphyry’s view of the connection between body and soul, as fundamentally in agreement with Plotinus, see A. Smith, Porphyry’s Place in the Neoplatonic Tradition. A Study in Post-Plotinian Neoplatonism, The Hague, 1974, ch. 1.

18 449b6-8; 453a4-l4.

19 See IV 3 30, a comparison suggested to me by Andrew Smith; and cf. IV 3 25 27-30.

20 Stobaeus in III 25 3 also cites De mem. with the definition of memory in a very reduced form: Τὴν δὲ κατοχὴν τῶν ϕαντασμάτων μνήμην ἐπονομάζεσθαι. This suggests at least that it was common to interpret ἔξις as κατοχή, which might be a way of avoiding the ambiguity in ἔξις (state, possession). Plotinus also speaks of κατοχή IV 6 1 3, 3 57.

21 This is emphasised by P.-M. Morel, “Mémoire et Caractère. Aristote et l’histoire personnelle” in Mémoire et Souvenir. Six études sur Platon, Aristote, Hegel et Husserl, Brancacci A., Gigliotti G. ed., Naples, Bibliopolis, 2006, p. 74-75.

22 See above fn. 7 for references to some work on the topic.

23 IV 169-170.

24 As seen by H.J. Blumenthal, “Plotinus’ Adaptation of Aristotle’s Psychology: sensation, imagination and memory”... 1976, p. 54.

25 E. Bréhier, op. cit., IV, p. 170-171: “Le reste du chapitre est destiné a montrer que les faits indiqués par Aristote lui-même prouvent que la mémoire est puissance active, et non impression passivement subie”. He then cites Alexander (De an. 70,3, Bruns) for the view that it is not merely the traces left by perception that enables one to remember, but the act relative to this trace. This is already to be found in Aristotle, however; see the preliminary definition quoted above, p. 107.

26 See also 449b22-23.

27 See also IV 3 26 7; τύπωσις is of course a Stoic term, used to define ϕαντασία (e.g. SVF II 53, 56, 59).

28 É. Bréhier finds the lines 67-70 only comprehensible by reference to Aristotle’s theory that those who are too hard or too soft, namely the old and the young, are incapable of memory (450a32-b10). (This conception is in fact alluded to at IV 7 6 38-44.) Bréhier translates lines IV 6 3 67-70: “Et pourtant rien n’empêcherait, même s’il y a dans l’âme un excès [de dureté], de lire des empreintes qui y seraient déposées, ni, si elle est peu consistante, d’être incapable de subir les impressions et de les retenir.” In fact, Armstrong’s view (to judge from his translation ad loc.) is right: this is a continuation of the preceding argument. I paraphrase as follows: any kind of superiority of soul (πλεονεξία ψυχῆς) would not prevent one from reading impressions in the soul. That is to say: since memory and intelligence preclude one another, and this would not be the case if memory consisted in impressions, memory cannot be impressions; and someone’s possession of a good memory does not force him to have an incapacity, namely of being affected and retaining the affection.

29 E.g. Timaeus 35a in IV 1.

30 Νῦν δὲ τούτων εἰρημένων περὶ μνήμης ἐϕεξῆς λεκτέον εἰποῦσι πρóτερον, ὡς οὐ θαυμαστóν, μᾶλλον δὲ θαυμαστòν μέν, ἀπιστεῖν δὲ οὐ δεῖ τῇ τοιαύτῃ δυνάμει τvς ψυχῆς, εἰ μηδὲν λαβοῦσα εἰς αὑτήν ἀντίληψιν ὦν οὐκ ἔσχε ποιεῖται. Λóγος γάρ ἐστι πάντων, καὶ λóγος ἔσχατος μὲν τῶν νοητῶν καὶ τῶν ἐν τω νοητῷ ψυχῆς φύσις, πρῶτος δέ τῶν ἐν τῷ αἰσθητῷ παντί. Διò δὴ καὶ πρòς ἄμϕω ἔχει...

31 É. Bréhier, op. cit., IV, ρ. 32.

32 Previously mentioned IV 3 29 24.

33 Cf. Blumenthal’s one line sketch of the theories of memory in Aristotle and Plotinus, quoted above p. 103.

34 V 3 3 1-9, IV 3 27 11, 14, 21 as well as in IV 4 1 1.

35 Cf. “Memory and Imagination belong... to the Discursive reason” (W.R. Inge, op. cit., p. 226). H.J. Blumenthal, Plotinus Psychology..., 1971, p. 92) argues against Inge that memory cannot be identified with discursive reason, because “the faculty of memory” remembers the products of discursive reason: a few pages later Inge admits that the faculty of forming images is so independent of the judgement that illusions frequently occur. But Plotinus does not think there is a separate faculty of memory, and of course it would be an exaggeration to identify the capacity for memory with discursive reason. But they have at least the capacity to entertain propositions in common.

36 De an., III, 3, 429al-2.

37 For Aristotle, see R.A.H. King, Aristotle on life and death, Londres, Duckworth, 2001, p. 58-64; S. Menn, “Aristotle’s definition of the soul and the Programme of the De Anima”, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, 22, 2002, p. 97-101.

38 IV 3 29 23.

39 IV 3 26 25-32. The longest treatment of φαντασία occurs in the texts on memory; there is no separate treatment of the concept. Other important texts are: I 8 15 18-19: “Representation is brought about by the irrational part (sc. of the soul) being struck from outside. But (the soul) receives the blow on account of its divisible nature.” This clearly echoes the Aristotelian view; so too VI 8 3 10-12: “But as for ourselves, we call imagination strictly speaking, what is awakened from the passive impression of the body”; but, in contrast: “ϕαντασία in the primary sense, which we call opinion” (III 6 4 19-21).

40 E. Emilsson, op. cit., p. 110, citing III 6 1 7-11, IV 3 26 and 29; n. 49 p. 167: I 1 7 12-13, IV 4 23 32.

41 Above. p. 114.

42 IV 3 25 11. Cf. IV 4 6 3.

43 É. Bréhier, op. cit., IV, p. 169-170.

44 Cf. A. Onsager, Plotinus on selfhood, freedom andpolitics, Aarhus, 2004, p. 24-25, pace W.R. Inge, op. cit., p. 227; L.P. Gerson, op. cit., p. 180-3, with n. 48.

45 449b4-5.

46 Also known as the mereological fallacy; see M.R. Bennett and P.M.S. Hacker, Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience, Oxford, 2003, p. 15.

47 436bl-7. On this passage, see P.-M. Morel, “Common to Soul and Body in the Parva naturalia” in Common to body and soul. Philosophical approaches to explaining living behaviour in Greco-Roman antiquity, Berlin, W. de Gruyter, 2006, p. 121-139; and for Sens. in general see also T.K. Johansen, “What’s new in the De sensu? The Place of the De sensu in Aristotle’s Psychology” in Common to body and sold..., R.A.H. King ed., 2006, p. 140-164.

48 Cf. IV 7 5 22-24. The soul is not in Hux, i.e. not amendable to change. IV 3 26 52-54.

49 See R.A.H. King, Aristotle on life and death, Londres, Duckworth, 2001, p. 49-58.

50 450a32-450bl 1. Blumenthal and Harder-Beutler-Theiler see in this a theory which Plotinus rejects, see above fn. 4.

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University of Glasgow

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